Voodoo Dreams

Title: Voodoo Dreams
Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
Pub Date: 1993
Genre: Historical Fiction

Voodoo Dreams is the story of Marie Laveau, but it's also the story of Maman Marie, Grandmere, and the Voudon Queen. It is about legacy, fate, and bloodline.

When we first meet Marie, she is the Voodoo Queen and through the strength of Damballah, has murdered John, her baby's father in the midst of a ritual performance in New Orleans. We get the sense that she was held prisoner by his unrelenting desire for power.

When we first meet her, she speaks out that sometimes the beginnings must start from the middle.

And that's exactly how this novel becomes a storytelling of the Marie Laveau, Voudon Queen. Not quite linear, not quite accurate, but haunting and chilling none the less.

Next we see Marie as a young child growing up in Tethe, an isolated home by the bayou with Grandmere. The young Marie wants to find her identity, the same identity that Grandmere is protecting her from. "Who is Maman?" young Marie begs Grandmere over and over again. The only conversation to ever put Grandmere in a foul mood. Then, on Marie's twelfth birthday, after yet another fight with Grandmere, she storms out and has a sexually stimulating vision of a mysterious man beckoning her. Confused by the vision, young Marie feels even more isolated than before. The years that follow Grandmere anxiously awaits Marie to begin her menstrual cycle so that she might marry and Marie, curious about the man in her vision, knows that she must marry to meet him.

Marie's marriage to Jacques will set her destiny in motion. On her wedding night, John, the man from her vision, comes to her and she becomes his lover. He makes promises of showing Marie her past and making her Queen of the Voudon. Marie, unable to deny John anything, abandons her newly wedded husband and Grandmere.

What follows is Marie losing her soul in order to find out who she truly is. Her insecurities cause her to hurt those she loves and perpetuate a cycle of half truths and hidden shadows. Voodoo Dreams is not just about the imagined life of Laveau, but of a young girl becoming Woman. A young girl losing herself in Man and fighting to find Voice.

The reading of the book was much more intellectually and emotionally driven than what I would expect (I was able to even suspend my disbelief by the one flaw that I spotted, the dialogue seemed a bit traditional rather than 19th century).

Voodoo Dreams haunted me. Truly and deeply. I cannot remember ever being taken aback by a book that I would find myself having consecutive nightmares. (Luckily I read this book in three days; my unsettled evenings were beginning to dampen my daily energy). And yet, I want to expand more on "nightmares". They weren't in the ghastly sense. They weren't gory, tragic, heart pounding. No. Rather, they were soft and subtle. A dark shadow creeping into my sleep. Slow and haunting.


  1. Last month I read her Voodoo Season and loved it, so now I definitely want to read this one! I'm glad you loved it. :)

  2. I"m going to have to recommend this one to my husband. He really likes this sort of thing. not so much the creepiness but just the subject.

  3. I wish I had read this before Voodoo Season, I think I would have appreciated it more.

  4. If the rest of the review hadn't done it, your last paragraph would have completely sold me.

  5. everyone once in a while i enjoy something creepy. this one sounds like it would fit the bill. thanks so much; great review.


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